William Sharman-Crawford

From A Compendium of Irish Biography, 1878

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Sharman-Crawford, William, an Irish politician, was born 3rd September 1780, at Moira Castle, in the County of Down. He was the eldest son of Colonel William Sharman, for many years member for Lisburn in the Irish Parliament, who died in 1803, leaving him large estates. In 1805 he married a wealthy heiress, Mabel Crawford, whose surname and arms he added to his own. He represented Dundalk in Parliament, from 1834 to 1837, was subsequently returned for Rochdale without cost to himself; and sat many years for that borough. He greatly increased the prosperity of the tenants on his large estates by extending and confirming the Ulster custom of tenant-right; and the main object for which he strove during a long parliamentary career was to give legal effect to this right, and to extend it to other parts of Ireland. The tenant farmers justly regarded him as their champion.

He brought before Parliament several Bills for the settlement of the tenant-right question. Though none of them passed, his untiring efforts, both in and out of the House, did much to direct public attention to the subject, and to lay the foundations for future ameliorative legislation. He supported O'Connell in his efforts for Catholic Emancipation, but could not join him in the Repeal movement, rather advocating a federal connexion between Great Britain and Ireland. After the tenant-right agitation subsided, he took no part in public affairs, devoting himself to the management of his estates, and to his duties as a Deputy-Lieutenant of the County of Down, where he was greatly venerated by the people. He died at his residence, Crawfordsburn, near Bangor, County of Down, 16th October 1861, aged 81, and was succeeded in his estates by his eldest son. Considering the important place William Sharman-Crawford occupied in Irish politics for many years, there appear to be singularly few particulars attainable regarding his career.

Sources

53. Burke, Sir Bernard: Landed Gentry. 2 vols. London, 1871.

233. Manuscript and Special Information, and Current Periodicals.

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